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Friday, April 22, 2011

The Preschool Newsletter

When I taught preschool for my church it was mandatory to have a newsletter each month. The parents loved the idea of knowing what was coming up and reminiscing about what awesome theme we had already completed. What a treat to see your son/daughter praised in the newsletter. The announcement of their baby sister, the fact that they knew all their alphabet, or their birthday celebration. These were all topics to put in our class newsletter. Still, each month there would be audible moan and groans when it was time to collect the monthly newsletter.

The number one complaint the teachers would have each month was they didn't know what to put in the newsletter! Is that your complaint? Do you sit staring at a blank screen? A half completed sheet of paper?  I came up with a few basic ideas and even sample newsletters to get your creative mojo hummin'.

The Basics of your newsletter:
The basics of your newsletter should always include your name, class, date, and the school or center name. This makes it easy for you to find, and parents to keep.

What should I include in my newsletters?
Your newsletter can include almost anything you want to share with your parents. Use some of these questions to help you complete your newsletter.
Do you have your monthly activities pre-planned? Add your upcoming projects.
Is there something bugging you? Add a "note from the teacher" place your pet-peeve there.
Is there a holiday coming up?
Is there any birthdays this month?
Do you need a volunteer this month?
Would you like a special guest?
Is there an upcoming field trip?
Are you children working on a new skill?
Did you take a new Early Childhood Class? Share your thoughts and opinions.
Are you receiving a degree, credential, or grant you'd like to share?
Do you need new materials?
Any of these would make great material for your newsletter.

What Programs to use?
As you can see there are so many ways you can build an awesome newsletter in no time. When I worked on my PC, I used the Publisher to create newsletters. I've also saved my work as "Word" document and used pretty dollar store themed border for my newsletters. Now that I use a Mac, I use their "Pages" program to create newsletters. Some of my colleagues prefer to hand write their newsletters and just make copies. You can use whatever method that works best for you. Here are some sample newsletters.

This newsletter I created in 2008 using the Word Publisher Program. It highlighted St. Patrick's Day, what was coming soon, and some Easter Fun activities.

The newsletter below was created using my Mac in September. If you notice, I've featured some of the students and their parents on the left hand side. In the middle of the page I highlighted themes we would work on in the future. Then on the far right there's a thank you note, reminders, and a wish list.

Why do I need a newsletter anyway?
You certainly don't need a newsletter. But, creating one is an awesome way to communicate with your parents. It can also serve as a keepsake for parents who enjoy collecting their child's memories. One of my parents would send a copy to the grandparents who live out of state. And, it's a perfect way to remind you of the projects and activities that were successful. 

Other ways to utilize newsletters.
Create your newsletter and email them to parents to save paper.
If you home school have your children create the newsletter each month as a writing assignment.

Want even more?
Beth Newingham writes a blog for older students but her newsletters are awesome for any age group.
Debra Henk also shares her newsletters here.
I loved these printable newsletters from The Teachers Desk. 
Check out Kevin's free printable borders, they're perfect for newsletters.

Happy writing,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's Spring and Love is in the air

It's Spring! The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and love is in the air. You say Love in Preschool? Yes, you read it right! It's common and there's not been a year I've taught that I didn't have a least one couple in my class. What's uncommon this year is that it's been the same boy but three different girls! His latest "girlfriend" plays with him in Centers, holds his hand on the playground, and positions herself in front or behind him in the line. They make it a habit to sit next to each other and strategically plan to create Art projects for each other. I must say I do discourage kissing as I tell them they may spread "germs" but they're welcome to hug, and they do hug every chance they get. As soon as one arrives in the morning, they're looking for the other half. When the other half arrives they run and hug like they're long lost relatives. During our Martin Luther King lesson I caught an image of them sitting on her cot reading a book together.

The parents thinks it's hilarious. The teachers think they're too much! I think they're both the sweetest kids attempting to imitate the relationship they see between their parents.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Preschool Hideaway: My Own Space

In your classroom there should always be a place for children to "escape". Some teachers refer to this as the "quite area" or "cozy corner". In our class there is a little corner between our cots and library that the students have designated on their own as their "hideaway". Yes, we have a designated "quiet area" but this is something quite different. This is a place to be secretive, to drag toys, to hide dolls, to talk to yourself, or to create with a friend. In the beginning, I used to discourage their quaint little space since it was by the back door (which we never use) and if they ducked down, it was hard for me to monitor their activities. However, each day one, two, sometimes three students would squeeze in the space and they seemed to be having the best time ever! Obviously, they really loved the space and I really love them so I strategically position myself near the space so I can monitor them and the whole class and we're as a happy as a school family can be.

If there's not enough space in your classroom for a hideaway, You can always create one. Here's a few ideas to get you started. 

Place two chairs far enough apart that a sheet will fit over them both. Fold the sheet back enough that you can still see inside. 

This little hideaway I created outside, using small chairs. 
I used clothes pins to secure the sheet. 

This big one I created inside using adult sized folding chairs. 
The clothes pins are secured under the backs of the chairs. 

And, this cute little structure was abandoned outside a church on the curb. I was more than happy to take it off their hands. It's made from PVC pipe. I keep it at my house, but I will occasionally bring to school to use as a hideaway. 

Happy Hideaway!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Preschool Keepsakes

Throughout the year I love creating keepsakes for my parents. It can be a card, a photo, or a Thanksgiving placemat. My favorite keepsakes are handprints and footprints. Two years ago, when my daughter was in Kindergarten her teacher created the cutest calendar keepsake using the students handprints. Luckily, I happened to be in the classroom volunteering one day and got to help create the handprint for that month. Take a look at how cute these are.

Mrs. Kovarik created a complete set of pages for the cover and each month of the year. They were reproduced so each child would have their own copy.  I covered my daughters name with a sticky note. But each child's name is on the front of their book. The children choose the handprint colors they wanted on the outside of the book and Mrs. Kovarik choose the colors for each month.

Here's the handprints for February Heart and the March Leprechaun.
To save time and money she only laminated
the front and back pages of the book. 

Here's the handprints for the June Tulip and the August sun.
The tulip is only the palm of the hand. 

I'm looking forward to sharing this keepsake 
with my daughter when she's all grown up!

A special thanks to Mrs. Kovarik for all of her hard work 
and making it a memorable first year for my baby girl:) 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

10 Preschool Ideas for "Week of the Young Child"

It's that time again! Early Childhood Educators all over the world are gearing up for Naeyc's annual
"The week of the Young Child". Here are some ideas for you upcoming week

1.  Special Feature: 
Create a slide show featuring your class, enter text supporting the importance of a child's early years. Invite parents for your special presentation. Serve popcorn and drinks!

2. Our Special Book: 
Have your parents each contribute to writing a class book. Each parent send in a note about what makes their child special and a picture of their child or take pictures during class. Read your "special" book during story time or circle time. Watch how your kids face light up when you read their "special" page.

If the idea of creating a book on your own seems overwhelming, enlist the help of a professional. I had Personal Child Stories create a unique book for each one of my students for Christmas. I provided the pictures and some text, and they did rest! A unique treasure they can keep forever.

3. Footprints: 
From earlier posts you know how much I enjoy footprints! Why not take your shoes off?! Have each child create a footprint on a piece of construction paper. Add the words, "I'll be walking in your footsteps someday". 

4. What I want to be: 
Ask your children what they want to be when they grow up. Use your learning centers to show how their aspirations and early childhood learning are correlated. For example, If Nicole wants to be a doctor, take a picture of her in the dramatic play area with her "lab coat" and "stethescope". Create a bulletin board with the words, "How Early Childcare Prepares Me". 

5. Story Tellling: 
Have a "celebrity" or "community" story teller visit your class each day. Have them bring a book related to their field. If they're a basketball player ask them to read about basketball. Parents are the perfect resources. They're always willing to come in and read to your students or know someone that will. 

6. My Community Loves Me: 
Make a point to call or visit your local grocery store, bank, dentist office, and restaurant in your area. You should already have a relationship with them, if not now is the perfect time to get acquainted. Ask would someone be willing to be a "guest" speaker in your class. Be sure to tell them you're creating "goody" bags to take home at the end of the week and they're more than welcome to bring coupons, samples, etc. to send home. 

7. Class Declaration: 
Create a class declaration. Each day ask the students what's so great about coming  to school each day. Record their answers on a long piece of butcher paper and leave it as a display. At the end of the week type up the declaration with each child's cute responses to send home. "Painting is awesome"- Darryl, "Mrs. Myra's funny" - says, Javia

8It's Free: 
Yes, it's true, people love to get something for free! To raise awareness for Early Childhood Education invite the public in for something free! A free art class, a free tour, a free storytelling, etc. 

9. Carnival Week: 
Tell your parents you'd like to celebrate the Week of the Young Child by having a carnival. Encourage each parent to do something fantastic like rent a popcorn machine, cotton candy maker or carnival games. Pull our all your carnival related activities to do throughout the week. 

 10A Party?: 
Of course! When all else fails I love to celebrate my kids by having a party. Have each child bring something special and tell them we're celebrating because, "you're just that important". 

For more ideas for the "Week of the Young Child" 
visit Naeyc
Visit my post from last year "Planning for the Week of the Young Child"

Happy Planning,